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Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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2.7 Can I install it from a pile of floppy disks?

First of all, a warning: whole Debian GNU/Linux is way too large to be installed from media as small as a standard 1.44MB floppy disk - you may not find installing from floppies a very pleasant experience.

Copy the Debian packages onto formatted floppy disks. Either a DOS, the native Linux "ext2", or the "minix" format will do; one just has to use a mount command appropriate to the floppy being used.

Using floppy disks has these complications:

  • Short MS-DOS file names: If you are trying to place Debian package files onto MS-DOS formatted disks, you will find that their names are generally too long, and do not conform to the MS-DOS 8.3 filename limitation. To overcome this, you would have to use VFAT formatted disks, since VFAT supports longer file names.
  • Large file sizes: Some packages are larger than 1.44 MBytes, and will not fit onto a single floppy disk. To solve this problem, use the dpkg-split tool (see dpkg-split, Section, available in the tools directory on Debian mirrors.

You must have support in the kernel for floppy disks in order to read and write to floppy disk; most kernels come with floppy drive support included in them.

To mount a floppy disk under the mount point /floppy (a directory which should have been created during installation), use:

  •      mount -t msdos /dev/fd0 /floppy/

    if the floppy disk is in drive A: and has an MS-DOS file system,

  •      mount -t msdos /dev/fd1 /floppy/

    if the floppy disk is in drive B: and has an MS-DOS file system,

  •      mount -t ext2 /dev/fd0 /floppy/

    if the floppy disk is in drive A: and has an ext2 (i.e., a normal Linux) file system.

Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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